See more synonyms for care on
  1. a state of mind in which one is troubled; worry, anxiety, or concern: He was never free from care.
  2. a cause or object of worry, anxiety, concern, etc.: Their son has always been a great care to them.
  3. serious attention; solicitude; heed; caution: She devotes great care to her work.
  4. the provision of what is needed for the well-being or protection of a person or thing: He is under the care of a doctor. With proper care, the watch will last a lifetime.
  5. temporary keeping, as for the benefit of or until claimed by the owner: He left his valuables in the care of friends. Address my mail in care of the American Embassy.
  6. grief; suffering; sorrow.
verb (used without object), cared, car·ing.
  1. to be concerned or solicitous; have thought or regard.
  2. to be concerned or have a special preference (usually used in negative constructions): I don't care if I do.
  3. to make provision or look out (usually followed by for): Will you care for the children while I am away?
  4. to have an inclination, liking, fondness, or affection (usually followed by for): Would you care for dessert? I don't care for him very much.
verb (used with object), cared, car·ing.
  1. to feel concern about: He doesn't care what others say.
  2. to wish; desire; like: Would you care to dance?
  1. couldn't care less, could not care less; be completely unconcerned: I couldn't care less whether she goes to the party or not.Also could care less.
  2. take care,
    1. be alert; be careful: Take care that you don't fall on the ice!
    2. take care of yourself; goodbye: used as an expression of parting.
  3. take care of,
    1. to watch over; be responsible for: to take care of an invalid.
    2. to act on; deal with; attend to: to take care of paying a bill.

Origin of care

before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English caru, cearu, cognate with Gothic kara, Old High German chara “lament”
Related formscar·er, nounnon·car·ing, adjectiveo·ver·care, nounun·car·ing, adjective

Synonym study

1. See concern. 3. To take care, pains, trouble (to do something) implies watchful, conscientious effort to do something exactly right. To take care implies the performance of one particular detail: She took care to close the cover before striking the match. To take pains suggests a sustained carefulness, an effort to see that nothing is overlooked but that every small detail receives attention: to take pains with fine embroidery. To take trouble implies an effort that requires a considerable amount of activity and exertion: to take the trouble to make suitable arrangements.

Usage note

13. Couldn't care less, a phrase used to express indifference, is sometimes heard as could care less, which ought to mean the opposite but is intended to be synonymous with the former phrase. Both versions are common mainly in informal speech.


or Care

  1. a private organization for the collection of funds, goods, etc., for distribution to the needy in foreign countries.

Origin of CARE

C(ooperative for) A(merican) R(elief) E(verywhere) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for care

Contemporary Examples of care

Historical Examples of care

  • "But you went to Athens, and took no care for your country," rejoined the prince.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • I remembered the helpless kid that Paralus confided to my care.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Your brother was foolish enough to leave his boat in Rushton's care.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Being under his care, it was his duty to keep it in good condition.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • What did he care then for Halbert Davis and his petty malice!

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

British Dictionary definitions for care


  1. (when tr, may take a clause as object) to be troubled or concerned; be affected emotionallyhe is dying, and she doesn't care
  2. (intr; foll by for or about) to have regard, affection, or consideration (for)he cares more for his hobby than his job
  3. (intr foll by for) to have a desire or taste (for)would you care for some tea?
  4. (intr foll by for) to provide physical needs, help, or comfort (for)the nurse cared for her patients
  5. (tr) to agree or like (to do something)would you care to sit down, please?
  6. for all I care or I couldn't care less I am completely indifferent
  1. careful or serious attentionunder her care the plant flourished; he does his work with care
  2. protective or supervisory controlin the care of a doctor
  3. (often plural) trouble; anxiety; worry
  4. an object of or cause for concernthe baby's illness was her only care
  5. cautionhandle with care
  6. care of at the address of: written on envelopesUsual abbreviation: c/o
  7. in care or into care social welfare made the legal responsibility of a local authority by order of a court

Word Origin for care

Old English cearu (n), cearian (vb), of Germanic origin; compare Old High German chara lament, Latin garrīre to gossip


n acronym for
  1. Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere, Inc.; a federation of US charities, giving financial and technical assistance to many regions of the world
  2. communicated authenticity, regard, empathy: the three qualities believed to be essential in the therapist practising client-centred therapy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for care

Old English caru, cearu "sorrow, anxiety, grief," also "burdens of mind; serious mental attention," from Proto-Germanic *karo (cf. Old Saxon kara "sorrow;" Old High German chara "wail, lament;" Gothic kara "sorrow, trouble, care;" German Karfreitag "Good Friday"), from PIE root *gar- "cry out, call, scream" (cf. Irish gairm "shout, cry, call;" see garrulous).

Different sense evolution in related Dutch karig "scanty, frugal," German karg "stingy, scanty." The sense development in English is from "cry" to "lamentation" to "grief." Meaning "charge, oversight, protection" is attested c.1400, the sense in care of in addressing. To take care of "take in hand, do" is from 1580s.


Old English carian, cearian "be anxious, grieve; to feel concern or interest," from Proto-Germanic *karojanan (cf. Old High German charon "to lament," Old Saxon karon "to care, to sorrow"), from the same source as care (n.). OED emphasizes that it is in "no way related to L. cura." Related: Cared; caring.

To not care as a negative dismissal is attested from mid-13c. Phrase couldn't care less is from 1946; could care less in the same sense (with an understood negative) is from 1966. Care also figures in many "similies of indifference" in the form don't care a _____, with the blank filled by fig, pin, button, cent, straw, rush, point, farthing, snap, etc., etc.

Positive senses, e.g. "have an inclination" (1550s); "have fondness for" (1520s) seem to have developed later as mirrors to the earlier negative ones.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with care


In addition to the idiom beginning with care

  • care package

also see:

  • couldn't care less
  • for all (I care)
  • in care of
  • in charge (the care of)
  • take care
  • take care of
  • tender loving care
  • that's (takes care of) that
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.